‘Two year journey’ to make Colchester hospital ‘good’

Colchester General Hospital

Colchester General Hospital

Colchester hospital could take two years to become rated as good again, the trust’s new chief executive has warned.

Frank Sims, new chief executive of Colchester Hospital University Foundation NHS Trust

Frank Sims, new chief executive of Colchester Hospital University Foundation NHS Trust - Credit: Archant

Speaking in his first interview with the East Anglian Daily Times since taking up the role last month, Frank Sims said the hospital was on a journey to recovery.

The head of Colchester Hospital University Foundation NHS Trust said he hoped the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) next report, due early in 2016 following an inspection in September, would “note improvements” in services.

“Since I joined I have been working really closely with the CQC and Monitor to determine what a successful future looks like and what support we need to be successful,” he said.

“I am expecting that support to be accepted, so that we have sufficient time to make the improvements we need to make on our journey to outstanding.

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“We need to be talking about getting to ‘good’ in about two years.”

Mr Sims, who replaced interim chief executive Dr Lucy Moore, completed a full set of permanent executives and clinical directors at the trust – the first time there have been no temporary leaders for around three years.

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He said the trust faced a number of issues which need to be tackled simultaneously if it was to succeed.

“We cannot just tackle the money or the CQC. If you lose control of the money, you lose control of all of your decision-making, and the investments you have to make,” he said.

“But as well as the short-term we need to apply a clear narrative for this organisation for the future.”

Much of this work was already underway, working with partners including Essex County Council and the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group to change the way care was delivered to make it more integrated and “patient centred” – and not aligned around who holds what contract.

Mr Sims, who was most recently chief executive of Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust, said he had made a commitment to lead the north Essex health trust because he saw an “opportunity”.

“The personal challenge is going to be exciting, but what really drew me was when I met staff and walked around the hospital and got a strong, positive feel for the place. The staff here are something special and give good patient care, that it one of our strengths,” he said.

“This is a life commitment, I have moved my life here, this is not a job I have taken lightly.

“There are some structural issues within the organisation and these are the things we are trying to fix.

“We have got to recruit to our establishment and get people into the hospital permanently, that is the big thing. I really want to make this organisation the place where people want to work, especially in some of our key services.”

Reducing the trust’s dependency on agency staff has long been identified as a key way to improve care and reduce costs.

Other ways to keep staff could be developing the “soft” facilities on offer, such as the on-site nursery run by an external provider at Colchester General Hospital which would allow workers to be more flexible.

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